QUICK HIT: Generation Change is a must for every high school (or even college) small group. This third installment, Go Write Your Story, is all about practically living out the three basic principles that Dave Ramsey teaches: become debt-free, work hard, and persevere. It’s tailor made for a high school crowd and works perfectly in a small group setting. The discussion guides are meaty, in-depth, and expertly done.
Okay, so in my review of Generation Change: Do, I said it was my favorite. But I have to amend that statement. This may be my favorite because you all know how I feel about the concept of life being a story. So when Dave and Rachel subtitled this series Go Write Your Story, I knew I was in for a treat.
The first lesson is all about being debt-free. And this might be the first place where I possibly disagree with Dave (gasp! I know. Let me explain.). I personally graduated college with about $10,000 in student loan debt and $10,000 saved up to pay for it. I then cash flowed my graduate degree. I was fortunate enough to have a job and a school with a flexible program. I did it. But it was hard. School was full time. Work was full time. Then I had a fledgling little hobby of a book review website on the side.
Most people aren’t as lucky as I am. Their jobs don’t pay as well; their schools aren’t as cheap; they can’t physically handle both school and a job. I have a friend who is a neuro-ophthamologist. He’s crazy smart. He’s also wayyyyyy in debt from student loans. And one of the reasons he doesn’t really like Dave Ramsey is Dave’s insistence that you can get through college without a student loan.
My thoughts? Under normal circumstances, maybe. But paying for med school and beyond is…well, I don’t think you should expect a med student to be able to cover all his costs initially. But even then, I see so many college students that work hard, study hard, and are simply exhausted. I know that student loans aren’t ideal. I get that. But I at least wish Dave would acknowledge that sometimes, in order to fulfill your calling, you may have to dig yourself a hole and then spend time digging yourself out. (Dave, feel free to respond if you read this.)
The second lesson is on work. Dave and Rachel bring in a guest speaker, Jon Acuff (formerly a Ramsey personality, now beating his own entrepreneurial path) to talk about discovering your calling and living your purpose. I’m so glad that Jon joined in on this discussion because, as anyone who has read his books know, he’s a been-there-done-that expert on the subject of going from bad job to good job.
The third lesson is Go the Distance. This lesson encourages students to persevere through whatever life has to offer. Interestingly, if a bit oddly placed, the lesson also offers a case study that explains car insurance…something I took notes on and I’ve been driving for some time!
Like the lessons before it the videos in Generation Change: Go Write Your Story, average twenty minutes per lesson. The lesson time itself, with introductions and discussions, is made to fit into a 60 minute lesson time. If you feel the twenty minute time period is too long, you may want to break the video portion in two, something you can do quite easily if you’re familiar enough with the material to do so.
As I close out this review, let me talk for a minute about the teacher manuals. They are seriously some of the best teaching manuals I’ve ever seen. Most small group curriculum comes with a DVD and maybe a brief discussion guide as an insert. Some curriculum comes with everything packaged separately, making you buy every little thing. In each Generation Change box set, you’ll find the DVD curriculum, two student guides, and one leader’s guide.
While you can buy more student guides (and if your church has the monetary means, I would do so), I would seriously consider adapting the material for your class’s personal use. I’ve found in my time of teaching that, all too often, student study guides get left at home and remain unused. Instead, I strive for as un-school-like as I can be while still providing solid teaching. Don’t just read from the book. Come prepared with the leader’s material memorized and a good knowledge of what to talk about.
And if you spend any time in the teacher manual, you’ll come away with tons of ideas. The object lessons at the beginning of each lesson are brilliant. Some are more corny than others, but sometimes corniness is the best way to remember something. In all, like I’ve concluded my other reviews of this series: You. Must. Do. These. Lessons. The feedback from parents and kids alike has been second only to the series I did on dating and sexuality. This is an important topic that demands to be taught. We avoid it at their peril.